In the sugar bowl game we play at home there are no winners, only losers. Don't say, "Please pass the sugar." Just pass it, period. And when I say "sugar" I mean not only ordinary table sugar but also brown sugar, corn and maple syrups and honey -- the empty calories we can well do without in the fight against obesity.
But that (and the protection of your teeth) is only part of the reason for eliminating a lot of sugar from your meals. A high intake of sugar stimulates the pancreas to produce extra insulin, and this seems to be bad for you. Insulin is a hormone that promotes fat storage and thus contributes in another way to the development of obesity. Insulin secretion is stimulated by an elevation of blood sugar.
When people with a genetic susceptibility to diabetes often eat large amounts of rapidly absorbed sugar, the pancreas is thought to wear out eventually from overstimulation. In such cases, insulin production drops so low that insulin treatment may become necessary.
Although it is not conclusive, there is evidence that a high intake of sugar may influence the development of diabetes, and diabetics have atherosclerotic disease more often, much earlier in life and more severely than nondiabetics. One source of evidence on the possible role of sugar is a series of studies of populations with a low incidence of diabetes who migrated from their homes, where the habitual diet was low in sugar, to places where they substantially increased their sugar intake. These studies show that after a few years of following the eating habits of their new neighbors, the relocated people developed diabetes at a rate that approaced the higher average in the new homeland.
There is also evidence that a high-sugar intake raises levels of certain blood fats other than cholesterol, called triglycerides. And hypertrigly-ceridemia, a condition in which trigly-ceride levels are too high, is a risk factor in heart attacks. There have been some suggestions -- on the basis of only a few experiments on animals, however -- that sugar may be a factor in the development of mild hypertension.
People sometimes ask about brown versus white sugar; nutritionally speaking, there is not much difference between the two. White sugar offers nothing but calories, whereas the brown contains traces of nutrients, but in amounts so small as to be insignificant. Molasses, on the other hand, retains such nutrients as iron, calcium and certain B vitamins -- but in variable and unreliable amounts. And despite claims of superior nutritional benefits by honey-lovers it is devoid of other nutrients.
All in all, then, the most I can say in praise of sugar is that it tastes good. Use it as little as possible in cooking and at the table and avoid processed foods with sugar high on the list of ingredients (which gives the contents in descending order by weight). Look for the words: brown sugar fructose; cane syrup glucose; caramel honey; caramel color invert sugar; corn sugar lactose; corn syrup molasses; corn syrup solids natural sweeteners; or dextrose.
You will find these sugars, often more than one to a product, some high on the list and some way down, in such foods as: baby foods; fruits; canned and frozen; breakfast cereals; cakes; ice cream and sherbets; chili sauce; pies; cocktail snacks; salad dressings; cookies; soft drinks and "fruit" drinks; soups, canned; and "fruit" yogurt.
It is a good idea to substitute fresh or water-packed fruits for sweet desserts; eat fruits, raw vegetables and whole-grain crackers (provided fat and salt are not too high on the ingredients list) in place of sweet snacks.
The following menus and recipes, prepared by dietitian Jeanne Goldberg for Dr. Mayer's bookk, are suggested for days five and six of a 10-day diet plan. DAY 5: Breakfast Grapefruit juice Hot whole-wheat cereal with skim milk Toast with margarine Coffee with skim milk Lunch Ham salad sandwich with lettuce on rye bread pepper rings, radishes and celery sticks Fresh fruit Tea or coffee Afternoon Snack Fresh fruit Dinner Lasagne (recipe below) Tossed salad with oil and vinegar Italian brean with margarine Sliced oranges and bananas Tea or coffee Evening Snack Fresh fruit and graham crackers With skim milk DAY 6: Breakfast Pineapple juice Bran cereal with skim milk Corn muffin with margarine Coffee with skim milk Lunch Turkey salad sandwich Cucumber spears and tomato wedges Fresh fruit Tea or coffee Afternoon Snack Fresh fruit DINNER Eggplant caviar on lettuce (Recipe below) Broiled steak or London broil Baked potato with margarine Broccoli Canned apricots Tea or coffee Evening Snack Part-skim yogurt with fresh fruit LASAGNE (6 servings) (390 calories per serving) 1/2 pound part-skim ricotta cheese 1 package (10 ounces) chopped spinach, cooked and well drained 1 egg 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg Salt and pepper 1/2 pound lasagne noodles 2 cups tomato sauce
Mix ricotta cheese, spinach and egg. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper. Cook lasagne noodles until barely tender. Cover bottom of baking dish with thin layer of sauce, then arrange a layer of noodles in dish. Next add spoonfuls of cheese mixture, followed by tomato sauce. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Repeat procedure until all ingredients are used. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. EGGPLANT CAVIAR (4 servings) (110 calories per serving) 1 medium eggplant 1 onion, minced 2 tomatoes, peeled and seeded 1 clove garlic, mashed 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon sugar 2 tablespoon wine vinegar 2 tablespoons oil 2 tablespoons dill, chopped 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Bake eggplant at 375 degrees until barely tender. Cool enough to handle. Peel and chop, draining off as much water as possible. Add rest of ingredients and chop until mixture is quite smooth. Season to taste. Chill. iServe on lettuce.